Michael Adex, the man who helped launch Aitch’s career, honoured with Industry Icon award

The news comes as the shortlists for the Northern Music Awards are finalised - with nominations still open to find the north's best festival.

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 10th August 2023

The Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards have announced the winner of the inaugural Industry Icon Award as Michael Adex, the man who helped to launch Aitch’s career.

The news comes as the shortlist for Inspirational Venue of the Year is also announced – featuring some iconic venues from Manchester as well as other cities and towns in the north of England – and as nominations for the Festival of the Year remain open.

Michael Adex, founder and CEO of Manchester-based talent management company NQ, is the first-ever winner in the Nordoff and Robbins Northern Music Awards, launched this year to champion the breadth of musical talent across the north of England.

The inaugural awards ceremony, supported by Ticketmaster, will take place right here in Manchester on 30 November, at Aviva Studios (formerly known as Factory International), before moving to a different northern city each year.

Melanie C has been announced to perform and to receive a Special Recognition award.


The awards will raise money to help fund the opening of a new Nordoff and Robbins dedicated music therapy centre in Salford.

Awards categories range from Newcomer of the Year to Artist of the Year, Band of the Year, DJ of the Year, Maverick in Music, and Festival Of the Year (you can still nominate your favourite with The Manc here).


Michael has been recognised for his tireless work to showcase emerging musical talent from the north, including, of course, Moston-born BRIT-award winning rapper Aitch.

NQ’s management, label, and publishing arms have surpassed three billion streams and eight platinum certifications since Michael founded the company from his bedroom in 2017.

He went on to create NQ Legacy, a not-for-profit helping young creatives from The North to explore careers in music and the creative arts sectors.


Northern Music Award Industry Icon 2023 winner, Michael Adex, said: “It is a great feeling to be recognised by the Northern Music Awards as their first Industry Icon. There is so much amazing, diverse talent in the North and I’m proud that NQ is playing a part in letting the world know about it.

“The North massively deserves to have its own awards show to highlight the rich heritage and wealth of musical creativity that comes from here. Nordoff and Robbins has created a long-term legacy with the Northern Music Awards to bring more music therapy to isolated communities, this is inspirational, and I am excited for their new centre to open in Salford.”

Nadra Shah, director of engagement and communications, Nordoff and Robbins said: “We are thrilled to honour Michael Adex for his enormous contribution to the success of so much thriving musical talent emerging from the North. Fundamental to the success of Michael’s artists – including the multi-award-winning Aitch – is their ability to connect with their audience.

“Our aim is to support and help to grow the eco system of Northern musicians whilst shining a light on the transformative work we do with music therapy, to connect with some of the region’s most isolated communities. We are immensely proud of the work we do in the North, next year we will be celebrating 20 years since we started delivering music therapy in Manchester.”

Also announced today is the shortlist for Inspirational Venue of the Year, across two different venue capacity categories, sponsored by Skiddle.


Those nominated in Manchester include YES, Night & Day Cafe, and Band on the Wall.

Inspirational Venue of the Year (under 500)

  • Brundenell Social Club – Leeds
  • Future Yard – Birkenhead
  • Night and Day – Manchester
  • Trades – Hebden Bridge
  • Yes – Manchester

Inspirational Venue of the Year (Under 2,000)

  • Albert Hall – Manchester
  • Band on the Wall – Manchester
  • Barbican – York
  • City Hall – Newcastle
  • New Century Hall – Manchester

Jamie Scahill, head of marketing at Skiddle, said: “Skiddle is incredibly proud to be supporting the inaugural Northern Music Awards and sponsoring the Inspirational Venue of the Year award. The grassroots venues of the North deserve to be recognised as they underpin the Northern music scene and culture.

“Skiddle was conceived in an independent venue in Preston 22 years ago and we have been supporting them ever since. We are grateful that Nordoff and Robbins are coming up North and we look forward to working with them for years to come.”

Nordoff and Robbins will be sharing half of the proceeds from Skiddle’s sponsorship of these award categories with registered charity Music Venue Trust.

Beverley Whitrick, chief operating officer, Music Venue Trust said: “Music Venue Trust is delighted to see Nordoff and Robbins celebrate the vibrancy of the music scene in Northern England with these new awards. The inclusion of the Inspirational Venue category, which acknowledges the importance of grassroots music venues to artists and audiences, is wonderful to see and MVT is thrilled to have been invited to be part of this by Nordoff and Robbins.”


The NMA judging panel has also selected 19 events for the Favourite Festival of the Year award shortlist, including Liverpool’s Sound City, Cheshire’s Blue Dot, Yorkshire’s Deer Shed, Stockport’s Moovin and Lancaster’s Highest Point, with the 20th to be decided by audiences from The Manc, The Hoot and The Sheff.

Premium tables for the awards themselves will be available to book in advance – to register your interest, please contact the Nordoff and Robbins team here.

Featured image: Supplied